James Moore: Less family silver – more of a car boot sale

Share
Related Topics

It looks like great idea in principle – raise funds to plug the gaping hole in Britain's public finances by selling off state assets.

So roll up, roll up. The Dartford crossing, the Channel Tunnel rail link, the Student Loan Company, our 33 per cent stake in the uranium processing company Urenco and the Tote are on the block.

If that little list inspires a feeling of déjà vu, it's not surprising. The latter three have all been touted around before. In fact, ministers have been trying to dispose of the Tote almost since New Labour came into office. But every time the Government has looked close to getting the state-owned bookie off its hands, something has come along to scupper the deal.

Variously, we've seen the market going wrong, the EU raising objections, MPs with marginal majorities in the North-west fretting about job losses and, finally, the bidders saying it's just not worth very much.

The Government can probably weather the prospect of a million or so students getting antsy about the SLC going, but what about the wider public's reaction to the sell-off of the uranium, given the fears that ministers have carefully stoked about terrorism? And sales of infrastructure like the Chunnel and the crossing can all too easily generate a massive furore when their new owners start talking about price rises.

Therein lies the problem. The easy privatisations have all been done. So have a good deal of the not-so-easy ones. What you're left with is a ragtag assortment of sweeties, all of which have the potential to induce serious bouts of toothache.

Of course, the elephant in the room, the state-enterprise that might be worth a few quid to someone with the gumption to go in and sort it out, is currently off the agenda. It's called the Royal Mail.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PE Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary PE Teacher (maternity cover) f...

English Intervention Teacher

£23000 - £33000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: English Intervention Teac...

Teacher of Citizenship and RE

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Teacher of Citizenship and REMaternity L...

English Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary English Teacher for a academy ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments